And when I say travel books I mean travel writing, novels set in other countries and historical guides. One of my favourite books is actually a little gem I picked up in Barter Books in Northumberland (a must visit for any reader!) Tibetan Trek by Ronald Kaulbeck, first published in 1934, the edition I have is from 1943 and has someone elses delightful pencil notations in the margins. Having decided to use some of my lockdown time rereading the book and some of my other favourites I thought I would share some of them here with you.
This is a travel and adventure themed store after all.
DOWN UNDER: TRAVELS IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY (BILL BRYSON)
I could have picked any book by travel writing legend Bill Bryson, but this tour through the Land Down Under has to be my favourite. As ever he has a great eye for the little details that bring a place to life, from Australia’s deadly wildlife to its bizarre history. It’s written with a light touch and plenty of humour, but you also learn a lot about the country as you read.
POLE TO POLE (MICHAEL PALIN)
Another much-loved author – and British national treasure – is Michael Palin, who’s gone from Python to world explorer. In one of his classic adventures from 1991 he travels through 17 countries from the North Pole to the South Pole. The book’s a journal of his journey as he takes on extremes temperatures, political upheaval, public transport and a broken rib.
TICKET TO RIDE (TOM CHESSHYRE)
Travel around the world on the rails in this exploration of 49 of the world’s most interesting train journeys. It features everything from the Trans-Siberian Express to India’s toy trains through the mountains, and will give you plenty of fodder for your rail travel wishlist. But it’s the characters he meets along the way that make you feel like you’re in that train carriage with him.
WALK THE LINES (MARK MASON)
Take an overground journey of London’s underground in this exploration of the city’s streets. Each chapter follows a different Tube line as the author walks the route above ground. It’s a mix of historical details and funny anecdotes from the journey, as he searches for the soul of the city while travelling from the well-known to the most obscure parts of London.
WILD: A JOURNEY FROM LOST TO FOUND (CHERYL STRAYED)
An American woman tackles the trauma of her mother’s death and a marriage break up by taking on the Pacific Crest Trail across the USA. It’s a 1100-mile trek from the Mojave Desert to Washington State, she’s doing it solo, with a monster backpack and not a lot of hiking experience. But when she’s not battling the elements or her own body, it’s a healing journey.
MARRAKECH EXPRESS (PETER MILLAR)
Pour a cup of mint tea and take a tour through Morocco by train. This British writer was inspired to explore the country by the 1969 Crosby, Stills and Nash song ‘Marrakech Express’. We follow him everywhere from the madness of the Marrakech souks to the ancient Roman ruins at Volubilis, with evocative descriptions of the sights, sounds and smells of Morocco.
BACKPACKED: A RELUCTANT TRIP ACROSS SOUTH AMERICA (CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD)
I love this book for two main reasons: the setting and the writing style. The author, Catherine Ryan Howard, was just finishing up a year working at Disneyworld in Orlando on a J1 visa and decided to tag along on her best friend Sheelagh’s (pronounced Shelia) big trip. You’ll find hilarious recounts of events from struggling up the side of an active volcano to not learning Spanish in the most idyllic lakeside town ever. No matter the story, she finds a way to make it hilarious
FAST INTO THE NIGHT: A WOMAN, HER DOGS, AND THEIR JOURNEY NORTH ON THE IDITAROD TRAIL (DEBBIE CLARK MODEROW)
Part adventure, part love story, part inquiry into the mystery of connection between humans and dogs, Fast into the Night is an exquisitely written memoir of a woman, her dogs, and what can happen when someone puts herself in that place between daring and doubt―and soldiers on. Try and read this in the snow.
IT HAPPENED LIKE THIS: A LIFE IN ALASKA (ADRIENNE LINDHOLM)
It Happened Like This is, on the surface, a memoir about what it means to live and love in one of the wildest places on the planet. But the love described is not a simple one; it’s a gritty, sometimes devastating, often blood-pumping kind of feeling played out in the rugged Alaskan wilderness.
CALL OF THE WILD: MY ESCAPE TO ALASKA (GUY GRIEVE)
Guy Grieve's life was going nowhere - trapped in a job he hated, commuting 2,000 miles a month and up to his neck in debt. But he dreamed of escaping it all to live alone in one of the wildest, most remote places on earth - Alaska. And just when he'd given up hope, the dream came true. Suddenly Guy was thrown into one of the harshest environments in the world, miles from the nearest human being and armed with only the most basic equipment. And he soon found - whether building a log cabin from scratch, hunting, ice fishing or of course dodging bears in the buff - that life in the wilderness was anything but easy...
ONE MORE CROISSANT FOR THE ROAD (FELICITY CLOAKE)
A land of glorious landscapes, and even more glorious food, France is a place built for cycling and for eating, too – a country large enough to give any journey an epic quality, but with a bakery on every corner. Here, you can go from beach to mountain, Atlantic to Mediterranean, polder to Pyrenees, and taste the difference every time you stop for lunch. If you make it to lunch, that is… Part travelogue, part food memoir, all love letter to France, One More Croissant for the Road follows ‘the nation’s taster in chief’ Felicity Cloake’s very own Tour de France, cycling 2,300km across France in search of culinary perfection; from Tarte Tatin to Cassoulet via Poule au Pot, and Tartiflette. Each of the 21 ‘stages’ concludes with Felicity putting this new found knowledge to good use in a fresh and definitive recipe for each dish – the culmination of her rigorous and thorough investigative work on behalf of all of our taste buds.
ADVENTURES IN MOROCCO: FROM THE SOUKS TO THE SAHARA (ALIC MORRISSON)
When Alice Morrison headed out to Morocco, it was to take on one of the most daunting challenges: to run in the famous Marathon des Sables. Little did she expect to end up living there. But once she settled in a flat in Marrakech, she was won over by the people, the spectacular scenery and the ancient alleyways of the souks. Soon she was hiking over the Atlas mountains, joining nomads to sample their timeless way of life as they crossed the Sahara desert, and finding peace in a tranquil oasis.
THE SALMON SISTERS: FEASTING, FISHING AND LIVING IN ALASKA (EMMA TEAL LAUKITIS & CLAIRE NEATON)
I first found the bright and inspiring life and work story from a pair of sisters who are Alaskan fisherwomen on Instagram where they run a fascinating page that's one of my favourites when it pops up in my feed . This is a brilliant book about their lives in Alaska along with fifty hearty and comforting recipes that honor wild foods from the sea and the shore. The remarkable and wild lives of Emma Teal Laukitis and Claire Neaton, the Salmon Sisters, who grew up on a homestead in the Aleutians where the family ran a commercial fishing boat in the Alaskan sea. Their book reveals this outward-bound lifestyle of natural bounty, the honest work on a boat's deck, and the wholesome food that comes from local waters and land. Here are creative and simple ways to enjoy wild salmon, halibut, and spot prawns.
TROPIC OF CAPRICORN (SIMON REEVE)
In Tropic of Capricorn, Simon Reeve embarks on a 23,000-mile trek around the southernmost border of the tropics - a place of both amazing beauty and overwhelming human suffering. Heading east through Africa, Australia and South America, Simon encounters breathtaking landscapes and truly extraordinary people: from Bushmen of the Kalahari and Namibian prostitutes battling with HIV to gem miners in Madagascar and teenagers in the Brazilian favela once described as the most dangerous place on earth. It is a collection of daring adventures, strange rituals and exotic wildlife, all linked together by one invisible line.
What are your favourite travel books? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Instagram (@sovendebjorn)